Little bit transparency here at the beginning because after learning that Run was conceived by minds behind 2018’s stellar ’Searching’, in director Aneesh Chaganty and his co-writer Sev Ohanian, there were some expectations before hitting play. Those expectations weren’t in the vein of cinematic masterpiece or anything like that but in the sense that you should be expecting a clever thriller with possible twists and turns. With ’Searching’, Chaganty was perhaps trying to be too clever with its ending where the plot twists got a bit pointless, fortunately with his second feature length he has built it to sustain a more subtle twist. The outcome is indeed a clever thriller which takes some shortcuts but a lot of those can be forgiven since it hits its marks while introducing a talented young actor in Kiera Allen.
Allen plays a 17-year-old Chloe who uses a wheelchair being paralytic from waist down and is on several medications for her illnesses. Chloe is being taken care of by her mother Diane (Sarah Paulson) and is expecting an acceptance letter from University of Washington as she begins to worry about received the said letter as well as suspecting that Diane might not be medicating her correctly. Like Chloe the character, Allen is also a wheelchair user and it’s noteworthy how that authenticity is put to a good use in Run. The small scale action scenes are quite something because of her acting, sequence where Chloe needs to get to the roof and one where she wheels to a pharmacy as camera tracks her are incredibly tense and effective. And not only that but she also manages to keep up with an experienced actor in Paulson when it comes to dramatic acting, it is one of the better feature debuts of the year.
For Chaganty it’s a table turned as his sense of direction is more refined than the writing this time around; getting a first time actor and a seasoned one both to sell their roles, twists are less exposition-driven and the visual style is a big upgrade. The biggest thing might be breaking the pattern every now and then, like when Chloe is truthful to her mom when thrillers usually keep some secrets - it also helps that Run trusts Chloe to be smart when she needs to figure something out. Sure, the story seems a bit simple at the end with conveniently kept papers in the basement, crappy internet and a mailman who ends up missing, also what happened to Diane during the final confrontation was slightly cartoon-ish. Luckily though most of the film works as Will Merrick’s editing compliments Chaganty, Allen and Paulson’s work during the most tense scenes (pharmacy, the phone call), perfectly getting us the viewers in and out of them.
Smileys: Kiera Allen, directing, editing
Frowneys: Minor issues with the story
In another review I mentioned wanting more snowmobile action but I’d also gladly take more tracking shots of wheelchair cruising.